June 27, 2013

A Tale of Blue Cities: Flat Stanley

During my time as a member of the faculty at JetBlue University, I have had the privilege of leading tours of our training facility for various groups and visitors, but none as interesting as my most recent guest.

For the past few weeks, I have played host to a boy named Stanley – Flat Stanley.  For those of you unfamiliar with my flat friend, he is the main character in a 1964 children’s book by author Jeff Brown.  The story is about a boy who gets crushed by a bulletin board and has to learn to live his life being only ½ inch thick.  Because of his size, Flat Stanley gets to go on various adventures.  He has a friend named Flat Stella with whom he sometimes travels.

Flat Stanley arrives at JetBlue University in Orlando ready to learn all about JetBlue!

I came to know Stanley through a friend ‘s Facebook post indicating a young teacher named Amanda in my hometown of Somerville, Mass. She was looking for people out of state to participate in her class project.  The goal was to get as many Stanleys to go out of state on adventures as possible.   I thought JetBlue University was a good fit for Stanley, since supporting literacy is one of JetBlue’s key areas of focus for our Corporate Social Responsibility efforts.  I also wanted Amanda’s class to know that even as grown-ups you never stop learning.

A letter from a student in Ms. Amanda’s class that arrived with Flat Stanley

Stanley arrived at JetBlue rather unceremoniously in a plain letter sized envelope and instructions from a student who signed his name ”Your Friend, Davis.”  It was a simple request – have fun with Stanley and send some pictures of his adventure.

First stop, our uniform store, where Stanley looked at the various uniforms worn by our crewmembers.   While in the store, we met Captain Eric who graciously posed for a photo with Stanley.  In my recap of our adventure, I emphasized to Ms. Amanda’s class the importance of math and science and that those were two topics that are very important in aviation.

Pilot Captain Eric with Flat Stanley in the uniform store

Flat Stanley seemed impressed with our uniforms, so we made him an honorary uniformed JetBlue crewmember complete with his own “flat” uniform.  From there we visited the Pilot training facilities, where Stanley got to see a Flight Training Device, or FTD, used to acquaint pilots with the flight deck on our aircraft.  Stanley also saw our full motion flight simulators where pilots learn and are tested on their mastery of “flying” our Airbus and Embraer aircraft in a simulated environment.

Flat Stanley in his new JetBlue uniform at our flight simulator

Rounding out his adventure, Stanley got to meet some Inflight crewmembers in training, along with Rose, one of our Inflight instructors.  Along the way, Stanley learned how tough the training is to become a JetBlue crewmember, and how, even as grown-ups, we have to study to learn new things.

Members of Inflight Class 10-13 and 11-13

As I sat at my desk and packed Stanley’s luggage for his trip back to Ms. Amanda’s classroom, I was grateful for the opportunity to experience this facility –  where I spend so much of my time – through the eyes of a child, even if that child was a small flat piece of paper.  In capturing the details of Stanley’s adventure, I remembered my excitement as a new crewmember, and that after almost ten years with JetBlue, how fortunate I am to work in this industry and for this company  – because JetBlue  supports the community in so many ways.

Diane showing Flat Stanley the ropes

Whether it’s a pilot speaking at a career day, or groups of volunteers from our BlueCities encouraging children to read through our Soar with Reading program that’s designed to promote literacy, these efforts not only give us the opportunity to serve the communities in which we operate, but also provide additional opportunities for us to connect with our customers.

Inflight instructor Rose

As I made my rounds with Flat Stanley, each JetBlue Crewmember I asked to pose for a picture with Stanley did so willingly and with great enthusiasm.  Because they knew that while Stanley is a piece of paper, he represents all those kids who sit at the airport with their noses pressed up against the glass watching the planes take off and land, who board our planes and want to peek into where the pilots sit and who one day may dream of a career in the airline industry.

Flat Stanley in the flight deck (don’t worry, he didn’t fly the plane!)

We airline people are a hearty breed.  You have to really love what you do to stand on the ramp in torrential rain to ensure bags get loaded on flights.  You have to be committed to your customers to get up at  2 a.m. to be at the airport for a 4 a.m. airport shift.   You have to love to fly to spend years and thousands of dollars to obtain the hours necessary to safely command a multi-million dollar aircraft and you have to work hard to learn all of the safety, security and service requirements to successfully pass inflight training.

These are the lessons that Flat Stanley learned these past few weeks and will take with him back to Ms. Amanda’s classroom (along with some cool JetBlue pins and baseball cards for the kids).

From left to right (Matthew, Davis, Stanley, Hemanjalee, Michael, and Ms. Amanda!

The Flat Stanley Project was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a third grade schoolteacher in Canada.  The project is intended to promote literacy and students who read the books send the paper doll and written notes to people or students in other parts of the world through conventional mail and e-mail.

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 Learn more about Dianecheck out the previous A Tale of Blue Cities stories and stay tuned for the next up!

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